The day before I left Wuhan, my friend, whose tears in my living room preceding her baptism have marked a turning point in my spiritual journey, came to my apartment for a farewell lunch. In the months following her baptism, her bible studies had been conducted by her baptizer: she didn't have time to meet with me, or even come to the women's bible study. I knew she was smart and strong and incredibly faithful, but still, as I prepared to leave China, I worried about her. I wanted to tell her just how much I no longer believed in so many of the things we Americans were telling her was God's truth, but I was dreadfully afraid that that itself might be more damaging than liberating.
We ate our lunch.
And suddenly, from across my tiny little table, she looked up at me and said, out of the blue, "Brother _____ sometimes just talks a lot of nonsense, doesn't he?"
I nearly choked. And then I laughed. I couldn't help it.
And then I praised God for this beautiful reversal of my all-too-human assumptions and expectations, and for the divine symmetry of our friendship. As she had once said to me, "God has answered my prayers in your words," this was true again.
It wasn't that she agreed with me. It was that in that moment I knew that she was okay, more okay than I was, even. She was not a baby who needed looking after. She was a woman, a woman made in the image of God and more mature in the image of Christ than I myself was. She was, in that moment, my angel, my divine messenger, sitting across the table, teaching me. Teaching me that our distortions of the gospel were just a lot of nonsense. Teaching me that such nonsense has no power, unless we grant it such. Teaching me that I too could mature into the image of Christ as she had, resilient, patient, forbearing and fearless.
She is okay now, I know. And so am I.